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A Day In The Life Of…A PR Chief

The CEO of 5WPR has just released a book, For Immediate Release, which aims to teach businesses how to use PR to their advantage.

It also includes sections that seem to be aimed at helping regular people understand how PR works. A “Day in the life” if you will.

PR Daily has the excerpt, which we’re further excerpting below:

My BlackBerry started buzzing just past 6 a.m. This isn’t unusual; early morning (or late night) calls from staff or clients are par for the course. PR doesn’t end at 5 p.m. and begin at 9 a.m. the next day. This anxious call was no different than dozens of others I’d received over the years.

“Ronn, did you read the paper yet?”

“No.”

“Well, read it now and call me back. Now. Now.”

There it was, in bold print, a major story about a labor-related lawsuit filed against another client, one that had clearly been planted by someone with an agenda against his company. No wonder he was calling at dawn. If it wasn’t handled properly, the lawsuit and accompanying media would have a very negative effect on his business. Okay. I had three hours until my 9 a.m. appointment at a top-tier newspaper’s office with the IPO client for a Q&A followed by daylong, back-to-back national and international media interviews. He was ready—we had worked through the many potential questions, and his answers were as close to flawless as they were going to get.

So…..what do you think? It’s missing curse words and coffee, and is a little glamorized (even the 6 a.m. wakeup call), but is it otherwise accurate?

PETA Takes Advantage Of Milk-Mad PR CEO’s Outburst For Some Cheap PR

soy latte from JOESomeone at PETA is probably in for a promotion because they replaced the milk at Keith Zakheim’s PR shop.

A little background: Last week, Keith Zakheim, who’s the CEO of Beckerman PR in New Jersey, sent an email to his staffers saying that if they used all the milk in the fridge without replacing it, they’d be canned. “Im not joking. You will be fired for not replacing the milk, and have fun explaining that one to your next employer. This is not a empty threat so PLEASE don’t test me,” he wrote.

A lot of people mocked Zakheim, and some supported him (“If you are running a company and expect your employees to display certain characteristics, why wouldn’t you fire them if they can’t even managed the smallest displays of those characteristics?” wrote one commenter on Gawker). But only PETA thought to replace the milk. According to Mogulite, the animal welfare group sent him a couple cartons of soy milk.

“To help alleviate your office’s milk shortage, assist in your company’s stated goal of promoting employee responsibility while decreasing selfishness, and reduce animal suffering, PETA is sending the Beckerman Public Relations headquarters several cartons of delicious soy milk,” the org wrote. “What better way to encourage an office culture of conscientiousness than to drink your coffee with a cruelty-free beverage?”

This is a pretty smart move on PETA’s part. Total cost for this campaign: probably about $25 for milk and shipping charges. The press? Priceless.

Unfortunately, soy milk in coffee is kind of nasty….so says this blogger, anyway. Maybe they’ll send some rice milk next.

The PR Campaign That Cost $0

The group blog Ici et here, managed by the owners of organic food business Fait Ici in Quebec, cost nothing but time, and got the business a double dose of traffic, media placement, and an increase in sales.

PRDaily looks at how they did it: Jackson Wightman, the co-owner, selected a diverse group of people willing to contribute just one blog post for free. They also didn’t ask for a specific topic as long as the blog fit into food and Montreal somehow.

This is a much less tough sell than asking for a long-term relationship and it allowed the blog to pursue a big variety that included, in Wightman’s words, “chefs, local food bloggers, journalists, a Hollywood actress, a New York Times bestselling author, and even my mom and dad. ”

The other plus: most of the bloggers now have established relationships with the store: they are Facebook fans and Twitter followers. “They’ve also come by the shop, spent money, and talked about the guest-blogging experience positively. Good signs.”

And all for a cost of…free. Well done, folks.

‘Media Producers’ Find Job Success At PR Firms

The silos are breaking down, says Arik C. Hanson, principal of ACH Communications in Minnesota. When before you could be just a writer or just a photographer, tomorrow’s PR pro is going to need to know more than one technology. (We’ve already seen this happen in journalism.)

“Many companies cannot afford to specialize any longer when it comes to content. Sure, they need quality, but not at a severe cost (and not for every project)….companies will be looking more and more for a professional with storytelling skills. And photography skills. And video producing and editing skills. These people exist–just not in big numbers quite yet.”

A PR ‘media producer’ would know the basics of photography, writing, SEO, social media, video, and podcasting, just to name a few.

Hanson says he’s already seen some employers looking for such a candidate.

And if you think this is nigh impossible, look what one producer (who, to be fair, specializes in video) for the National Science Foundation did recently. Total budget: $0. That’s right, $0. So writers, that excuse about how it costs too much to learn video just went out the window.

(story via)

Do Journalists Make The Best PR People?


Wearing multiple hats. Get it?


The answer is a big “maybe,” if you listen to PRDaily (and we don’t know why you wouldn’t).

Journalists, who have expertise in “spotting news, shaping a story, and writing against often-hellish deadlines” are of course valued in PR. But they also must know how to “speak marketing” and be polite—clients aren’t used to hearing the same four-letter words commonly thrown around a newsroom.

PR people also deal with a (typically) stricter corporate culture than (typical) journalists, must keep in mind not just bosses but clients and media, and juggle all this with verve and cheer (PR people, why are you always so cheery?)

But, PRDaily writer Dorothy Crenshaw concludes, in an ideal world, all journalists would spend some time pitching, and every PR person would spend a year as a journalist. “Imagine what we could accomplish together,” she says.

GolinHarris ‘Prevolves’, Gets Rid Of ‘Account Executives’

PR agency GolinHarris is reorganizing its 700 employees into new specialist groups where “account executives” no longer exist, replaced by titles like “catalyst” and “strategist.”

In addition to those two titles, other specialties will include “creators”—people who craft messages and tell brand stores, and “connectors”—the social media experts.

The agency is spending $10 million on technology and training related to the reorg.

Why?

“I’m motivated partly by opportunity,” GolinHarris president Fred Cook told the New York Times, “and partly by fear.”

“Recently, we hired a researcher, and people said, ‘He doesn’t fit into a particular account. He’s never worked in consumer packaged goods,’ ” Cook said. “But he’s a brilliant strategist; our model has to have room for people like that.”

According to PRWeek, the agency will double in size globally over the next decade. That’s 700 new jobs out there for you creators, strategists, connectors and catalysts.

Want To Buy Some Cheap PR On Twitter? Not As Cheap As It Was

Twitter promoted trends, which cost $25,000 for a day when the feature launched last year, now cost $120,000 for a day, ClickZ reports.

That’s a huge increase in just over a year, making the sell, if you’re in marketing or PR, that much harder to the folks who hold the purse strings at your company.

But out of Twitter’s 600 advertisers, Twitter’s director of revenue Adam Bain said, 80 percent come back for repeat business. So despite the price increase it must be working for Twitter’s advertisers.

At the same time, Twitter’s “promoted accounts” ad product, which allows companies to gain more followers based on a bidding system, is averaging out at $4 per new follower, Bain said.

That seems high to us.

But Bain told ClickZ it was “a pittance because the ROI is insane. …once they have a follower, they can keep marketing to that guy as many times as they want without worrying about where they are across the web or what kind of mindframe they’re in.”

Incidentally, today’s Promoted Trend is #Super8Secret, which Paramount purchased to promote “secret” preview screenings of the movie “Super 8.” Peter Kafka notes that 1) this purchase is part of a year-long marketing contract Paramount signed with Twitter, committing it to a full year of buys. and 2) the movie’s pretty good.

Oregonian Reporter To Switch To Flacking For Government

The Oregonian is losing a star reporter, but Multnomah County is gaining a top-notch public affairs rep.

Julie Sullivan, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, told editors she’s leaving to join the county’s communications department, where she’ll work under David Austin, another former Oregonian reporter.

This is not the first time Austin has drawn from his pool of former colleagues as a talent source. In April, the Willamette Week reports, Austin hired Hank Stern as a communications coordinator. Stern had been a Willamette Week editor and an Oregonian reporter before joining Austin at the Multnomah county offices.

Willamette Week called Sullivan’s departure “perhaps the biggest loss” the paper of record has suffered in recent months. Its loss, Multnomah’s gain.

Oh, The Irony: Facebook Hired PR Firm To Spread Negative Stories About Google’s Privacy Problems

You have probably already heard by now that Facebook had hired renowned PR firm Burson-Marsteller to pitch anti-Google stories to newspapers and blogs. The gist of the stories: Google’s new social products are an invasion of privacy. (Facebook has since admitted that Google’s use of Facebook data in its new social product is at least part of what’s bothering the social giant.)

Both PR reps assigned to the account were former reporters: Jim Goldman is a former CNBC tech reporter and John Mercurio was a former political reporter, so you think they would have known better.

Burson-Marsteller has issued a statement more or less throwing Facebook under the bus, saying that keeping the client’s name secret “was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined.”

There will doubtless be other bus-throwings before this is done: someone at Facebook will blame a junior exec for having this idea and there will be a resignation. Someone at Burson-Marsteller will probably lose his job.

Quite honestly, we don’t know how anyone thought this was a good idea.

Especially when you think about the topic: Facebook is trying to talk about other companies’ privacy problems?

We attach as evidence a completely undoctored screenshot of an e-mail newsletter we got not ten minutes ago. Click to enlarge.



Nuff said.

Quora Opens To Marketers

Quora has lifted its ban on “self-promoting questions and answers,” potentially opening the door to another way for marketers and PR firms to spread the word about their clients.

Late last week, Quora’s Marc Bodnick announced the old ban was “problematic” and would be eliminated as of Thursday.

“Quora’s key principle regarding content is that users should make the site a great resource for people who want to learn,” he wrote. “The quality of the answer is what we care about. Evaluating the intention of an answer does not support this policy. We want to encourage users to provide answers based on personal experience, and this often involves — or even requires — discussing subject(s) in which the writer has personal experience. Personal experience is an asset, not a liability, and is a key element of many of the best answers on Quora. In other words, we want users to write about what they know and care about — companies, organizations, causes, people, products, etc.”

Still required: disclosure. And Quora’s voting system, which can bury useless posts under real answers, will help eliminate much of the spam, Bodnick said.

Quite honestly, to assume that until Thursday the only people answering questions were completely disinterested third parties with no agenda would be pretty naive. This is more honest, we think.

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